Porpora: Opera Arias
Max Emanuel Cencic (countertenor), Armonia Atenea, George Petrou (conductor)
Niccolò Porpora (17.08.1686 – 03.03.1768) was an Italian composer of the Baroque era. He wrote some four dozen operas, and his operas Orlando and Arianna in Nasso have been recorded. I am not over familiar with the works of Porpora, a Handel he is not, but on the showing of the arias on this latest offering from Cencic he produces many opportunities for vocal fireworks.
With all of the Debussy anniversary issues of late, it would be easy to overlook this release marking the 250th anniversary of Porpora’s death. The Viennese countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic has already recorded the first complete recording of Porpora’s Germanico in Germania and he is a great champion of neglected baroque composers.
This CD opens in blazing fashion with the swaggering ‘Se tu la reggi al volo’
from Ezio. What follows is a range of arias performed with great elegance by Cencic whose voice is perfectly integrated across its wide range, and he dispatches the plethora of semiquavers with a smoothness that simply has to be heard. For me, Porpora is at his very best in the arias ‘Ove l’erbetta tenera, e molle’ from Filandro (written for Annibali) and the emotional lament ‘Torbido intorno al core’ from Meride e Selinunte. The fine musicians of George Petrou’s Armonia Atenea only serve to add to the enjoyment.
This is a great example of a fine baroque recital, which shows off the talents of the this splendid countertenor without ever going overboard. The sound quality in this 96kHz flac download was very good. Overall an enjoyable experience, but one which, for the present listener, would have been enhanced by the provision of some context for each of the arias. For those fully acquainted with the works of this composer that would not be an issue but for me I felt sold short by Decca in this respect.